Could Gronknandez be in Honolulu on January 29? The Patriots' absurdly productive tight end tandem of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez finished 1-2 in Pro Bowl fan voting last week (Gronk with 936,886 votes, Hernandez with 265,682) and we'll find out Tuesday night if they are selected as the first and second-team tight ends for the 2012 Pro Bowl. Fan voting is one-third of the process; the coaches and player votes count for the other two-thirds. Other Patriots who led their respective positions in the fan voting were quarterback Tom Brady (1,454,311), wide receiver Wes Welker (1,133, 787), guard Logan Mankins (272,702) and injured defensive end Andre Carter (511,693). Matt Light finished second in tackle voting (306,609) as did corner Kyle Arrington (477,390).Finishing third at their positions were DT Vince Wilfork, kicker Stephen Gostkowski and special teamer Matt Slater. Despite Arrington's seven interceptions this season, he probably hasn't had a Pro Bowl-worthy season given the travails of the Patriots' defense. Carter, who's on IR, certainly earned his consideration with 10 sacks. Wilfork absolutely deserves to be in Hawaii. Brady, Welker and Gronkowski all deserve MVP mention this year (Aaron Rodgers deserves the award). Sebastian Janikowski has been the AFC's best kicker ahead of Gostkowski. Mankins hasn't been as effective this season as in years past but he's still the pre-eminent left guard in the league. Light also deserves consideration. All Patriots would like to avoid going to Honolulu. That would mean they are slated to be in Indianapolis for the Super Bowl the following week.
FOXBORO -- Roger Goodell will reportedly be in Atlanta for the NFC Championship Game this weekend and therefore will miss the AFC title game between the Patriots and Steelers at Gillette Stadium on Sunday. His absence will mean he hasn't been to a Patriots game in more than two years, when he was present for the AFC title game in 2015 -- the birth of Deflategate.
It's news that broke on Tuesday and sent some Patriots fans into an uproar. Patriots players, though, sound like they're having a hard time caring one way or the other.
"He’s the commissioner, so obviously whatever he wants to do, he can do," Tom Brady told WEEI's Kirk and Callahan Monday. "If he wants to come, that would be -- yeah, he can come."
In the Patriots locker room on Tuesday, others struck a similar tone.
"I could care less," said Patriots receiver Chris Hogan. "I'm focused on Pittsburgh and their defense and studying them as much as I can this week, watching them as much as I can so that I can go out there on Sunday and be prepared."
Special teams captain Matthew Slater was similarly disinterested in the discussion.
"The game's going to be played," he said. "Whoever's in attendance is in attendance. We'll just worry about trying to play well."
FOXBORO -- Patriots wideout Chris Hogan indicated after Saturday's divisional round win over the Texans that he'd be OK, and he doubled down on that stance when meeting with reporters Tuesday.
The veteran receiver, whose first season with the Patriots has brought his first career postseason experience, injured his thigh against Houston. He left in the third quarter and did not return.
"Feeling good," Hogan said. "Just had a little minor setback in the game. I'm working back every single day and feeling better every day."
Hogan had an awkward collision with Texans defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney at the end of the first half on a play at the goal line. To that point, he had reeled in four passes for 95 yards as the team's primary deep threat. With Hogan out, Brady relied upon Julian Edelman and Michael Floyd as wideouts.
Hogan explained that he was expecting to practice this week.
"I'm just gonna go day by day," he said. "Come in here tomorrow. Everything's been feeling better day by day. I'm looking forward to getting out there and practicing this week."